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Archive for the ‘1 Corinthians’ Category

Welcome

Tonight we remember the final supper Jesus shared with his disciples

simple and contemplative

scripture reading (OT, Epistle, Gospel) and prayer

name for this service comes from John’s gospel

“I give you a new commandment,

love one another as I have loved you” John 13:34

Latin: mandatum novum

communion tonight will be by intinction

come forward as you are able

if you are not able, I will come and serve you

our table is arranged to remind us of three sides – triclenium

how people ate in the time of Christ

reclined around tables

with space in the middle for serving

at the end of tonight’s service,

I will extinguish the candles, as …

we hear the passion story from the gospels

listen as the shadows fall over our Lord Jesus’ journey …

to the cross

Note: after the benediction,

please depart in contemplative silence

reminder about Good Friday services

12-3pm: Sanctuary open for meditation and prayer

7pm: Shadows of the Passion

reminder about Easter Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

Call to Worship

    + The Lord be with you

    And also with you

    + We gather to remember …

The night that Jesus shared his last supper

        with the disciples.

What shall we give to the Lord for all goodness to us?

    We will lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the Lord

Opening Prayer (unison)

Gracious and merciful God, in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper you give us a memorial of the passion of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Grant that the ones who receive these sacred mysteries may grow into him in all things until we come to your eternal joy through Jesus Christ our Lord and our Savior. Amen

Scripture Readings

Exodus 12: 1-4, 11, 14; God’s instructions to Moses for the preparations for the Passover meal, which is the same meal Jesus and his disciples gathered for on this night in the Upper Room

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.

This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.


1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Paul reminds the emerging church that the Lord’s Supper is the practice and proclamation of the living Lord Jesus Christ.

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

John 13: 1-17, 31-35. Jesus serves his disciples and gives them a new commandment.

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord– and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

Invitation

This is not the table of the church, but of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It has been prepared for those who love him

This table is open to anyone and

everyone who wishes to come

There are no barriers to this table

So come, you who feel your faith is strong today,

and the ones who feel you are struggling;

The ones who have come to this table often,

and those who have been away for a while

or the ones here for the first time.

The ones who have tried to follow,

and the ones who feel you have lost your way.

Come, each one of you, not because I invite you,

for it is our Lord Jesus who calls, saying

“I am the bread of life.

Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,

and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…

anyone who comes to me, I will never drive away.”

Prayer Before Communion

Lord Jesus Christ,
you draw us in and welcome us,
you invite us to be empty of pride and hungry for your grace,
to this your kingdom’s feast.
Nowhere can we find the food

for which our souls cry out, but here, Lord,

at your table.

Invigorate and nourish us, good Lord.
As we break this bread and take this cup

your love meets us
and your life completes us

in the power and glory of your kingdom.
Amen.

Words of Institution

    Bread

    Cup

Prayer after Communion

Gracious and loving God, we are grateful for this meal that nourishes our soul. May we go forth, strengthened with compassion, to work together for the coming of your kingdom of justice, love and peace, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Extinguishing the Candles

“Listen prayerfully to the reading of the scriptures for the passion of our Lord, and may the extinguishing of the lights be a reminder of his suffering, even when our hope for the resurrection may seem like a dim memory.”

The Shadow of Betrayal; Matthew 26:20-25

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

The Shadow of Agony; Luke 22:40-44

When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.

The Shadow of Loneliness; Matthew 26:40-45

Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is ˃ weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

The Shadow of Desertion; Matthew 26:47-50, 55, 56

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

The Shadow of Accusation; Matthew 26:59-67

Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'” The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him…

The Shadow of Mockery; Mark 15:12-20

Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him.

After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Shadow of Death; Luke 23:33-46

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”

The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying,” If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Only the Christ candle remains lit

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

Then slowly and deliberately extinguish the Christ candle

Blessing and Benediction

Keep us safe Lord, while we are awake, and guard us as we sleep, so that we can keep watch with Christ.

Now, may the peace of God, which passes all understanding

keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God

and of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord;

And may the

Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

Love of God

Communion of the Holy Spirit

Be with you – and everyone you love

Tonight, tomorrow, and forever. Amen

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1 Corinthians 3:10,11,16-23

Foundations

  1. Way In

    My Experience on the High Ropes Course

    Don’t like heights

    Remember time at Callaway Gardens Circus

    Describe vacation

    Trapeze

    Scared to death

    Rappelling –Scout Camp

    Repeat performance of my trapeze act

    High Ropes at Michindo last summer

    Describe course

    Up high in the trees

    Challenges increase with each span

    Fitted for harness

    Experience on the ground of leaning way back and having the belay catch you

    Climb a basic ladder 8-10′ up

    Walk across a solid plank bridge about 4′

    Next is a rope bridge

    A little longer

    Ropes at feet like a horizontal ladder

    Two ropes as a “handrail”

    Next spans

    Rope for feet goes down to 1

    Handrails gradually disappear

    Longest/Last one has ropes hanging from above to hold

    But they seem too high to reach

    You can reach, but takes a stretch

    This is the one right before the Zip Line

    Where you sit on the platform

    Harness secured to the Zip Line

    But you have to push off from the platform

    Trust that the harness will hold you

    Trust that you will not crash into the tree at the end

    So you start with the lowest level of risk

    Move up

    In risk

    Physically higher

    End with Zip Line

    Fear went down as I got higher

    At the low end, I was doing a lot of yelling

    Nervous chatter with people on the ground

    Complaining about the ropes, difficulty

    Screaming out that I was about to die

    Looking with dread at the spans to come

    “That’s impossible!” “No way I’m going to make that one!”

    Easy to quit at that point

    Just climb down and be done with it

    Moving to higher section of the course

    Hooked up to belay lines

    Motivated to get to the end

    Only way to get to the Zip Line

    Really wanted to do that

    Although it was scarier to be up higher

    More focus

    I knew it was possible – saw the instructor do it

    Confidence

    Belay ropes would keep me from falling

    No matter what I would not fall

    At least not free fall – the rope would catch me

    Had to remember that I was belayed

    Felt better about my ability as I completed each step

    In our group, most of the nervousness, yelling , etc. came from the 1st spans of the course

    On the higher spans the climbers were …

    More quiet

    Less griping, less yelling

    More confident, more focus

    More sure about the course

    Trust the belaying ropes and the belayer

    Focus on the next step

    Not looking at the next span, or dreading the last one

    Just focusing on the next step

    Then, at the end of that span …

    Looking back with confidence in what I just accomplished

    Remembering how I dreaded that one

    And celebrating that I made it after all

    Now, for that next step

    Approached with confidence and assurance that I could do it

    Just like I did the last one

    Bridge

    We may notice the same thing in the church (maybe other areas of life, too)

    The griping, yelling, sense of defeat, and giving up comes at the low end of the course

    From the ones who haven’t learned to trust the ropes

    The ones who have moved to the high end of the course

    Are more quiet, more confident

    They are taking the steps on the rope one at a time

    Looking with confidence at the next step

    Celebrating each completed span

    And considering the next one with the confidence of having completed the last one

    Trusting in the safety of the belay

    And gaining more confidence with each step

    No griping about the course, doubting the ropes, complaining and threatening to quit

    Confidence and focus are the foundations of the ones who complete the course

    Most of the griping, fussing, and feeling defeated are from the ones who can’t seem to make it past the ladder or the first span

  2. Tell the Story

    Context

    Paul dealing with the troubled church in Corinth

    Beset with arguments

    Over authority: Paul, Cephas, Apollos

    Sexual morality, marriage

    Lawsuits

    Worship; esp. the Lord’s Supper

    Rich people showing up early and eating all the food

    Working classes come too late (after work) and don’t get enough

    Exegesis

    Paul calls them back to their roots/essentials/foundations

    “no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has already been laid for us in Jesus Christ

    Have you forgotten that you are God’s temple…God’s Spirit dwells in you?

    The Temple is central for the Jews

    Jesus, the disciples, early church – all Jews

    “even to the Gentiles” came later

    In their time it was the Second Temple

    Rebuilt after Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 586 BCE

    Built, 957 BCE

    Center of worship

    Holy of Holies – inner sanctum, God’s presence

    You are God’s Temple

    Remember Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount?

    You are salt and light

    God’s Temple is holy (set apart)

    And you are that temple

    Even with all the troubles, arguments in your community

    You are that temple – holy, set apart

    And don’t forget it, you should act like you are

    You are set apart for better things than the things that are dragging you down

    If anyone destroys that temple, God will destroy that person

    Later generation of Jesus’ followers saw the 2nd Temple destroyed

    By the Romans in 70 AD

    The Jews who fled Jerusalem were reminded …

    That destroying the Temple did not destroy God

    And God went with them ….

    By the power of God’s Spirit – beyond Jerusalem

    Like God was still with Israel during the Babylonian exile the time following destruction of the 1st Temple

    Not concerned here with God’s vengeance for destroying Temple

    Rather that God is not confined to the Temple

    Holiness is not determined by proximity to the Temple

    You are God’s Temple

    God’s Spirit dwells in you

    Therefore as you go about, spreading the Good News

    You are holy – set apart

    Even if …

    … the Temple (the building in Jerusalem) is destroyed

    … there is dispute in the church (among the people)

    … there is confusion among the leader (leadership, hierarchy)

    … all these things, even life or death, present or the future

    You belong to Christ

    And Christ belongs to God

    Therefore you belong to God

     

  3. So What?

    So even in the church

    that is to say the building, or the structure,

    physical or hierarchical

    which is made by human hands

    and subject to every human failing, pettiness, or fault

    Even there … is the place where God’s Spirit is

    And that Spirit is for the expression of God’s love for the world

    Transformational love in Jesus Christ

    That love which you have received in grace upon grace

    Not just to have and hold for yourself

    But to share and spread and give away

    Just as that love has been given to you

    I said last Sunday that following Jesus can be dangerous

    Because that discipleship has the power to change our life

    It’s no accident or coincidence that the readings for the past few Sundays have had to do with basics of faith

    Last 3 sermons

    What the Lord requires (Isaiah)

    Jesus telling us to go be salt and light – spice and vision (Gospel)

    Choose life – choose to make it (Deuteronomy)

    Rather, it is the assurance that the church is no stranger to struggle

    THAT began when God’s people first became the church – the gathered

    The Tabernacle

    The Jerusalem Temple

    The Body of Christ

    So let us not be dismayed or deterred

    Go back to the ropes course

    The fussing, griping, complaining was mostly from the ones who weren’t used to the struggle

    Like before I decided I could/would trust

    Trust the belay rope

    Trust the structure was sound

    Once I figured that out – and saw it work

    Then I could proceed on the harder sections

    The ones that, at first, looked too daunting

    That I could trust in the foundation of the construction of the course

    Put behind me whatever happened before

    And decide to make it

    One step at a time

    Trusting the foundation

    And be in the place on the course …

    Where the fussing and griping was behind me

    And I could take one step at a time

    And make it along a course that once looked like way too much for me to handle

    Until I made it to my goal – the Zip Line

    When I took that big step off the platform,

    Trusted the foundation and the harness, etc.

    And rode down the fun part

    Yelling, but this time, yelling for joy

    That I had made it

    And in that same way…we will make it

    Unafraid that the church (any church, every church) has struggled

    Undeterred and undistracted …

    by grumblings from those who are not on the same journey

    With a sharp focus on our mission and vision

    And even though there is …

    Struggle, grumble, distraction, and fussing

    It is all coming from the low end of the course

    Where it’s easy to jump off

    And climb back to the ground

    For those who are committed to making it here

    There is the progress of focused assurance

    One step at a time

    Unafraid of what lies before

    Trusting in the foundations

    Like the harnesses and belayers on the ropes course

    They will be there, won’t let us down

    It’s our foundation in the saving love of God in Jesus Christ

    That prepares us, and saves the world for a better way

    And that compels us

    To share it

    By the way we live our lives

So let it be with us. Amen

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1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Great Love

1. Way In

I Love:

Peanut butter, meat loaf

shrimp, crawfish, clams, crabs, lobster

cold beer, red wine, Coca Cola

reading The New York Times

crossword puzzles, NYT is 1st choice, others

books, reading, libraries

William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty

Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Band, Bob Dylan, REM, U2, Avett Brothers

bluegrass, classical, opera

I love these things, they make me happy

but this isn’t the kind of love we find in 1 Cor.

Relationships

Family

my wife, Kazy

my sons, Paul, jack, Miller

my parents, sisters

extended family

This is getting closer to what the Bible says

loving relationships, commitment

remember what Jesus says:

nobody has greater love

than the one who will lay down their life for a friend

Love one another as I have loved you

Bridge: listen for what Paul is telling us about loving relationships

2. Tell the Story

Without love I am (we are) nothing

if I speak, even with the voice of an angel

but do not have love – I’m just making noise

If I have great powers, knowledge and faith

but do not have love – I’m nothing, I make no difference

If I give up all that I have

but do not have love – I am nothing, I don’t get it

We must understand that love is

patient, kind

not envious, boastful, or arrogant

does not insist on its own way

not irritable or resentful

does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth

love bears all things; believes all things, hopes … , endures …

love never ends

prophecies will come to an end, so will tongues, even knowledge

When I was a child

I spoke and thought like a child

as an adult, I put an end to childish ways

Now we see in a mirror dimly

then we will see face to face

now I know in part

then I will know fully

faith, hope, and love abide

the greatest of these is love

3. So What?

I read this passage a lot at weddings

it’s a wonderful reminder of how we ought to be with each other

but there are times …

when I feel like I should stop

say, “OK , y’all. Will somebody please read this to me.”

I find myself standing in front of some loving couple

giddy, crazy in love

reminding them of what the Bible says about love

… and realizing the ways I’ve been missing it

patient, kind – well, most of the time

not arrogant, envious, boastful – oops

not irritable – well, a lot of the time

I put an end to childish ways

“Oh, like the silent treatment, or saying ’you’re not the boss of me.?” Yeah, I guess so

God surely doesn’t need me to explain 1 Cor. 13 to anybody

it’s God’s Word and it’s a reminder to us

besides this, the most helpful description of love I heard lately is:

from Elie Wiesel (Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner)

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

the opposite of love is indifference – “I don’t care”

hate is bad, no doubt

but indifference is even worse

to think somebody doesn’t even matter

the Bible says without love, we’re nothing

without love, life doesn’t matter

song from Rent, my favorite show, asks

how do you measure a year?

daylights, sunsets, midnights

cups of coffee, inches, miles

525,600 minutes

How about love? Measure in love

how will you measure your life? or how will others measure …or God?

what you’ve accomplished?

how much you worked?

how much stuff you had?

how well I spoke?

without love, it’s all just making noise

Paul starts by telling us what love is not

not boastful, arrogant, etc.

Free-style to end, e.g.

the opposite of love is indifference

nothing more hurtful/hateful as indifference

seeing somebody/child of God suffering and not care, not be moved

Utter devastation in Haiti that we witness in the media every day

what can we do? there is so much need

can you imagine not being moved?

we can’t save the world – can’t do it all today

but we care

that’s the first step

that’s love

so we reach out – do what we can

pray

raise money, resources, supplies

imagine seeing some of the needs in our community and not caring

ministries started because somebody cared

Munch Bunch – food provided for 430 kids (Oct. 09 – Jan 10)

then he tells us what love us

recap list from 1 Cor. 13

descriptions of love besides Weisel

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community. It all happened while we sat there talking, and it is still going on.” Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness

The only solution is love

that’s how we live in grateful response to God’s grace

Love, love, love

All you need is love

So let it be with us. Amen

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1.  Way In

Who regifts?

my exp.

yours?

2.  Tell the Story

Context

Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth

talk what was going on there

the church learning about being in the world

… about faith and life

The text

Spiritual gifts?   a new idea

“I do not want you to be uninformed”

back before you knew the Lord, “when you were pagans”

you paid attention to mute idols

and those speaking by the Spirit of God do not curse God

… and it is only through the same Spirit that we claim Jesus as Lord

About these gifts:

there are varieties:

varieties of gifts – ways of serving – ways of living

but the same Spirit – the same Lord – it’s all God

all are for the same thing – objective

the common good

Examples – all are “by the Spirit” – all are from God

wisdom, the speaking of wisdom and of knowledge

faith

healing

working of miracles

prophecy

discernment of spirits

speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues

all come from the same Spirit and are given as gifts

3.  So What

What’s your spiritual gift?

kind of a loaded question

what if you can’t think of anything?

I can’t do any miracles

except sometimes just getting up out of bed seems like one

or making myself look halfway presentable some days

I never healed anybody.  have you?

you never saw me on TV healing people

making somebody get up out of their wheelchair

… throw away their walker or cane

or curing somebody from a disease

although I heard John Geissler from Agape talk about healing

he actually HAS experienced God’s healing

in people he has prayed over

and seen illness go away, or deformities become correct

yet he is the first to tell you, “I am not a healer”

   he’s only acting on behalf of God

      the conduit for God’s Spirit

I don’t speak in tongues

in the “spiritual” sense

there have been times, esp. when I lived in New York

when my southern accent has seemed like another language

but you have heard about people speaking in tongues

ever actually heard it?

Me neither.  Only once, in a documentary about snake handling

another “curious” church activity

the same for prophecy

maybe I predicted something

foretold it …

but I’m talking about a biblical prophet

proclaiming back to God’s way

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel

not so much “telling the future/how things will be”

as telling how things need to be

kind of a loaded question

what if you can’t do any of those things?

are you bereft of spiritual gifts?

or if you can do one, is that all you can do?

are you spiritually pigeonholed

some denominations hold firm in these gifts

and a lot of what you can or can’t do in church are determined by what your gifts are

and there are certain ones in the church who can determine these

so you can imagine the power structure that emerges

around the exhibition of spiritual gifts

certain places where your status in church depends on

    your spiritual gifts

can you imagine how power and status would be incentives

… to have and use (rather “exhibit”) certain gifts

1 Corinthians isn’t the only source, you can find others listed

teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, mercy, pastoral

one gift that stands out in this list

not much said here about that one

seems kind of played down – especially when there is status around what your gifts are

i.e. when you don’t want everybody having gifts

everybody can’t have all the status or power

One gift we all have – FAITH

Hebrews, assurance of things hoped for

better world

kingdom of heaven

peace

Faith – against evidence to the contrary

we still work for these things

we’re all the same

no hierarchy here

no evidence of stronger or better gifts

no struggle over who has more gifts

maybe some of us have specialized training

even specialized education, ordination

which gives us certain responsibilities

but under that we’re all the same

(takes off robe to reveal jeans, Sesame Street t-shirt, Converse hi-tops underneath – dressed this way for the rest of church)

regular people

doing the best we can – ‘til we all get better – ‘til we can’t

getting up every day

trying to make a difference

make things better in our corner of the world – and beyond

we’re regular people, but we can make a difference in Haiti

it’s because we follow God

with whom nothing is impossible

a way out of no way

free people out of slaves

people of faith out of pagans/heathens

something special out of you and me

a miracle-working and powerful God

who came among the people

to show us the way

Faith

the gift we all have to follow God

and to DO like Jesus teaches

and that’s the regifting part

because when we do like Jesus teaches

we build each other up

and we-together, we are the church – the Body of Christ

and this is how we work towards the common good

to bring about change in the world

peace where there is war

food where there is hunger

love where there is have – worse yet, apathy

the common good

that is where we re-gift our faith

so let it be with us.  Amen

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